Most times we take for granted that our kids, or really just children in general are constantly communicating with us. Often we respond with “oh they’re just cranky” or even frustrated when our kid fusses, “throws a tantrum…” just down right acts out. Not realizing that these truly are the best indicators that you need to pay attention much more closely.
I’ve had the opportunity to work in the field of social work for about 3.5 years now, and it’s been a blessing and a slight curse. From eye opening trainings to reminding myself that I don’t want to be a crazy psycho parent and keep my kid from all the “bad people” in the world – finding a balance has been a challenge and something I deal with as a parent regularly. However, the greatest tool I’ve developed in my profession is this: children are your thermometer. Most times as parents it’s easy to blame your child’s less than favorable behaviors on them, rather than sometimes looking at ourselves or even the environments that they may be in as a factor…just a thought.
Kai has been going to a daycare since he was 10 weeks old, one of the most difficult decisions I’ve made ever. He started off in a home daycare and honestly it was exactly what we both needed. It was a previous coworker of mine that had started a new career venture, and she wasn’t too far away from my job. So as a new mom, still breast feeding, an emotional wreck – it provided the comfort and convenience I needed to help me transition back to work full-time. Kai flourished. He was growing, learning, and absolutely loving the small and intimate setting the daycare provided. As Kai grew I noticed that since the other children with him were younger, he seemed to slow down on development – nothing drastic, but we noticed. So after speaking with our pediatrician, she told us to consider a larger daycare where he could see a wider range of ages and children developing. It was very bittersweet, but as I considered going part-time we figured the transition would work after his first birthday. So on we went to a larger daycare.
Kai’s new class had about 6-8 children and two teachers in the class. We were pretty excited since he would stay on task in learning colors, shapes, even Bible verses. Feeling encouraged at our new care facility and the fact it was closer to home which would work better (since I was taking the brunt of pick up and drop off with Kai and I almost 45 minutes or more away). We started off well, like all things. Then we started seeing the following:
- Kai was much more irritable and attached when home with us (like we were constantly holding him) when before he was very independent and secure when playing near us
- Random scratches and scabs were on him, but no one told us he had them
- Kai constantly had a crusty face – boogers/snot can someone wipe his face?
- Kai got sick more frequently mainly respiratory viruses like RSV , Croup, random stuff
- Kai became much more aggressive and not just because he couldn’t communicate – kicking, hitting, possessed by something, throwing anything he could find, biting the dogs…poor Oliver
I will preface this that I do know that some of these things are age appropriate especially since Kai is learning how to communicate/express himself… I definitely know my son isn’t a passive child (we’re not passive parents), so pushing and snatching toys is all apart of development. But what isn’t is intentionally picking up toys to throw at you or biting and I see that you’re angry….or screaming and throwing yourself like you’re in the midst of an exorcism… no.
Everything upset him. Kai came home angry and when we dropped him off he would cry and scream as if it was our first day of coming to the facility. When getting sick, he was sick for a week sometimes more than that at a time – he even needed to start using a nebulizer. Kids get sick, germs are everywhere, but something just wasn’t adding up especially when staff kept telling me there were “no reported cases of any sickness.” I’m not saying someone was lying…but someone was lying.
We figured in all adjustments, we just needed to give things some time and with more children we can’t expect Kai to just have one-on-one attention. But then one evening my husband went to pick up Kai and he had a lump on his head and two scratches on his face… not only was the teacher caught off guard that something was even wrong with our son, she couldn’t tell my husband how it happened. Mike spoke to the director briefly and came home done. Lack of supervision is never okay. Kids bust their face all the time, it’s the truth. Our son is rough and bruises even when we least expect it, however, “I don’t know” is never a sufficient answer when something happens, especially in a caretaker role in that type of setting.
We made arrangements and our best couple friends (cause it’s awesome when you’re already friends then you both get married AND you have kids) of ours who we spend time with on regular basis, were willing to watch him during the day. It’s an added bonus that Kai has been growing up with their kids since he was born and they’re all in the same age bracket. Today was his first day and he didn’t even acknowledge me when I dropped him off – well played son…well played. He also wouldn’t stop talking when we picked him up. I’m immensely grateful for her doing this and a hopeful break from the last several months of long mornings and even longer nights.
This is long, I know…but too often we miss the signs our little ones are telling us not because we’re neglectful, but because we don’t even realize they mean something. Will Kai have his days, absolutely – everyone does. Should every day seem like a struggle, no. Something was wrong. Watch your child’s temperament when he/she returns home from being somewhere. Observe how your child interacts with you and even others. If it becomes a pattern, re-evaluate. Don’t just assume…listen. You’ll be glad you did.